Looking to keep track of your step count? We take a closer look at the humble pedometer in its many forms –  from the traditional clip-on trackers to the modern, high tech sports watches – before sharing some top tips on how to use a pedometer to upgrade your walking workout…

A pedometer is a clever gadget that senses your movement and calculates the number of steps you take. Most styles account for all step-like movement – not just walking workouts but walking around the house, the office or climbing stairs, for instance. Pedometers come in different forms – some you can clip onto your waistband, others slip inside your pocket, hang around your neck or are worn as a watch. When you’re choosing a pedometer to buy, here are some key points to consider…

how to use a pedometer

Which pedometer should you choose?

Some pedometers simply track the number of steps you take. You just clip them on and go, resetting the steps to zero each day. Others can offer more sophisticated features, such as calculating the time you spend walking, the distance you walk and number of calories you burn. You may need to programme the date, time and your weight, or calculate and input your length of stride before you start using it.

Some pedometers allow you to upload your data to your phone or computer so you can track your progress. Buy a reputable brand and simply follow the instruction booklet to ensure you get an accurate reading from it. Most are reliable at counting steps but with the simpler
ones it’s harder to accurately measure the distance you walk or calories burned.

Choose a pedometer that’s not too heavy and fits securely to the clothing you usually wear. If you’re using one that clips to your waistband, check your clothes don’t affect the reading. Also opt for a model with a display monitor so you can read it in different light. To ensure you’re getting the most reliable data you could always turn your smart phone into a pedometer with an app – try iStep for your iPhone, which calculates distance, speed and calories burned, or Extra Pedometer on Android phones.

how to use a pedometer

How to track your step count with a pedometer

Once you’ve set up your step counter, wear it throughout the day for three days to establish your baseline steps. Log the total number of steps you take for each of the three days then divide that total by three. This provides an average baseline number of steps to build on. When you know how many steps you take on an average day, you can set yourself new targets to build up the distance you’re walking.

For instance, if you’ve found you usually walk 5,000 steps a day, aim to add on another 500 steps each day for a week by including some extended periods of walking in your daily routine. For example walk to the shop or bank instead of driving, or exit public transport a stop earlier to walk the remainder.